As my celebration of all things His Dark Materials comes to an end (kicking and screaming mind you), it is amazing to look back and see the journey that has happened. I started this month thinking I would just post a few fun facts, add a review here and there and show off this great series, but in doing so I have immersed myself into this series and reminded myself just how magnificent it truly is.
There are always questions that are raised when reading the trilogy, the keys ones being ‘Why was Mrs Coulter’s dæmon never named?’, ‘Was Moxie ok?’, ‘Did Lyra’s world recover?’, and of course the big one being ‘Why would you do this to me, Pullman? Why?’.
There is so much to love in this series, grand intricate plots; complicated, flawed characters; powerful emotions and a beautiful approach to huge ideas, all of which are all explored with flawless execution. Pullman is a master at big ideas in small bundles. He says so much indirectly and what he says directly has a great impact.
Another thing Pullman is great at is reaching deep within you and playing with your emotions, which is an amazing experience. He builds you up, raising your tolerance and making sure you are totally invested before he pounces. While Northern Lights was hard to read at times, it was nothing compared to what The Amber Spyglass would do to you. And while you thought The Subtle Knife was emotional, it was nothing compared to what The Amber Spyglass would do. Basically, The Amber Spyglass for all its brilliance will ruin your life. It’s wonderful.
There were many benefits in having this celebration, not only because I got to show off my favourite series to everyone, introducing it to people who haven’t read it yet and shared my love with fans who have, but I also got a great deal out of it as well. There were the little things such as learning more about the series I didn’t know, discovering fun facts about characters, title origins, discovering some brilliant fan art. But there were bigger things as well. Something much more profound happened to me these last couple of weeks. I came to the realisation that these books are my books. These are the books that make me proud and make me cry, and bring me so much joy and make me cry, and they teach me so much about things I didn’t know I needed to be taught about.
I have always felt strange listening to people talk about books they love, Sabriel, Harry Potter etc, books that have been their books. The books they know inside and out, the books they read as kids and loved, the books that are ingrained in their lives, that they obsess over and feel deep emotional connections with. I stupidly felt guilty for not feeling the same way about those same books. I thought I clearly hadn’t been reading Sabriel properly, a book so popular and loved and big. And while I adore Harry Potter I wasn’t at that ‘love above all else’ adoration for it either. I didn’t think I had been reading any books properly because I didn’t have this level of love for any of them, even the ones I had claimed to love for years like the Tomorrow Series or Thursday Next. That is until I reread His Dark Materials. It had been a few years since I had last read this series and while I remember loving it as always, and knew the scenes that always stayed with me, that was all I remembered. But being more than five years later a lot has changed, and upon rereading them now I realised that this was what I had been missing out on: the intense passion and admiration for a book. Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. These are the books that I have held in my heart without knowing it; that made me cry (a lot) despite having read them so many times. That can still break my heart and astound me to no end. And as silly as it may sound, I am glad to have gotten that out of this past month if nothing else.
I realise it sounds terribly trivial, and that this isn’t a thing most people think about or care about, but the moment I realised that these books filled that empty feeling I had, it was a truly wonderful moment.
There is so much magic to a series like His Dark Materials. There are things in this series you won’t recover from; they will be burnt into your heart and soul forever. There is so much beauty that you want to climb into the pages and experience firsthand. There are gut wrenching emotions and absolute joyous experiences of admiration and pride and triumph which will brighten your entire day. Even just admiring Pullman creativity and imagination is bewildering enough. It amazes me that someone could do all that with just words, to make this pain, joy, and heartache, not only for the first time but each and every time after that.
I am aware as I type this it sounds like the ramblings of a madman, which I am totally willing to accept. One of my biggest loves for this series, away from the characters and the grand ideas and the intricate plot, is just the complexity. Pullman fills these books with so much, all fitted neatly beside one another, interacting and bouncing off one another. The detail is astonishing, the tiny details that have huge consequences like the wings of a butterfly is impressive. The entire book is one big butterfly effect and Pullman knows it, it all started with Lyra in the Retiring Room. If you look at this series closely you get lost amongst the complexity and the adoration of just how well it all works.
I will be sorry to see this month come to an end, but I do believe if I kept going any longer I would fall so far into the rabbit hole I may have a hard time convincing myself to climb back out again. I truly and sincerely hope you have all enjoyed this past month. I know I have had an absolute ball bringing it to you. Thank you for sticking by me through it all and who knows, I may do it all again in a couple of years for the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter!